YouthZone seeks new home, as old Glenwood Springs library deal folds
YouthZone is looking for a new location as an impending land swap, which includes its leased building at 803 School St., raises questions about how much longer the nonprofit has at that locale.
The city of Glenwood Springs will look to redevelop that parcel as part of its confluence master plan. So, eventually YouthZone will need another location, said City Manager Debra Figueroa.
“But I don’t quite know when that will occur,” she said.
The property is part of a land swap deal between the Roaring Fork School District and the city, but the school district still owns the land pending some administrative work to complete the swap.
Lori Mueller, YouthZone executive director, said that, under its lease with the school district, they would get 18 months written notice before having to move out. But Mueller doesn’t believe that will happen under the city’s ownership, so the organization feels time is running out.
YouthZone has been looking into the old Glenwood Springs library, at Ninth Street and Blake Avenue, which has sat empty for about four years after it was turned over to city ownership when the new library was built.
However, one avenue toward that goal recently shut down, as Ted Edmonds, a former YouthZone board member and former city council member, pulled out of plans to purchase the building.
The city had been under contract to sell the old library to Ted and wife Ruth Edmonds for $1 million. The Edmonds then planned to turn it over to YouthZone in some fashion, possibly by re-sale.
“One thing sort of led to another, and we just couldn’t make the deal work,” Ted Edmonds said Friday.
In addition to the sale price, Edmonds said he was looking at anywhere from $300,000 to $400,000 in renovation costs and life-safety work, including radon and asbestos mitigation. Because it has sat empty for several years, the building also requires some plumbing and other repairs.
Nevertheless, Mueller still sees the old library as a viable option. YouthZone’s board thinks it could be a great location, but at about 9,000 square feet, it’s more than twice the space YouthZone needs. So the nonprofit is looking for another organization to go in as a partner in the building.
YouthZone staffers and board members appealed to the Garfield County commissioners this week to be that partner, noting the county’s earlier interest in a senior center at the old library.
The commissioners said they would continue to be strong supporters of YouthZone and contribute to its capital campaign. But, as far as ensuring that YouthZone gets into that space, or another suitable space, that responsibility should fall to the city, said the commissioners.
Figueroa says that YouthZone’s need for a new location is nothing new. The nonprofit has been looking for a new building at least since she began working for the city in mid-2016.
But the real estate reality hasn’t presented many promising options, as YouthZone is aiming for a property that maintains its ideal proximity to the courthouse and other services in downtown.
“We know our time is probably limited where we are … and having kept an eye out for a location meeting YouthZone’s needs, there has just been nothing on the horizon,” Marci Pattillo, a YouthZone board member and real estate agent, told county commissioners.
“We will certainly work with YouthZone to help them. I think we’re all just readjusting and will have to work together,” said Figueroa. “I don’t want to see YouthZone go without a building.”
“We’ve kind of earned our space in Glenwood, having been around for 40 years and having done awesome work with families,” said Mueller. “So I think everyone is excited to find a good long-lasting home for us.”
The YouthZone board will meet with city and school district staff next week to discuss the organization’s lease and how to move forward with the city’s designs on that land, without leaving the nonprofit in the cold.
“It’s all just a little bit gray,” said Mueller. But she’s optimistic that YouthZone will soon get some clarity. She added that the organization’s board has been financially smart, having anticipated needing cash reserves for such an occasion. The organization has about $50,000 in a building reserve fund and another five months in regular reserves.
The nonprofit will need to have a capital campaign, which will take time, said Mueller.
“We can’t afford to miss a beat with the work that we do,” she said.
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The city of Glenwood Springs has proposed investing $5.76 million for street improvements in the 2020 budget.